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Saturday, May 24, 2003

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Gingee Ramachandran resigns — Fallout of bribery charges against PA

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THE Minister of State for Finance, Mr Gingee Ramachandran, put in his papers on Friday evening after pressure mounted with BJP party members also seeking his resignation following the arrest of his personal assistant (PA), Mr Perumalswamy, on bribery charges on Thursday.

It was not just the Opposition that was seeking his exit. The Ramachandran issue is also said to have figured at the meeting the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had with the BJP top brass including the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani.

Earlier, the BJP President, Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, condemned the alleged involvement of the Minister's PA in the case. "It is unfortunate and shocking. Such interference in the transfers and postings by Minister's staff is highly condemnable," Mr Naidu said on the sidelines of the national executive meeting of the BJP's women's wing. Mr Naidu also credited the BJP-led NDA Government for not sparing the staff of its Ministers if they were in the wrong.

According to him, the three arrests showed how the Government was committed to fighting corruption, whether it was this issue or the one involving senior DDA officials.

Meanwhile, a Special Court has remanded Mr Perumalswamy, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for accepting bribe, to 10-day police custody.

The Special Judge, Mr Prem Kumar, , also remanded the two other accused, Mr Anurag Vardhan, an Indian Revenue Service officer, and Mr Padmanabhan, a project associate at the Centre for Atmospheric Science, IIT, Delhi to four-day police custody for interrogation.

Mr Perumalswamy was charged with taking a bribe from Mr Vardhan for a posting of his choice.

The CBI arrested Mr Perumalswamy when he went to Mr Vardhan's house to collect the bribe of Rs 4 lakh.

The Court has also issued a `prisoner transfer warrant' for Mr A. Krishnamurthy, the chartered accountant who acted as a conduit for fixing the transfer of Mr Vardhan from New Delhi to Mumbai.

The `transfer remand' has been issued to enable the investigating agency to produce the accused along with the seized documents before the CBI special judge in Delhi, CBI officials said, adding that he was expected to arrive in Delhi in the evening.

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